Grand Christmas Quiz 2016

Another year, another quiz.  I know you can’t wait to get started, so I won’t waste too much time on the preliminaries.  Two points are available for each answer, except where otherwise noted.  Answers to be revealed on 2nd January (probably).  First prize, as usual : a year’s subscription to the New Crimson Rambler.

This year I have broadened the scope a little, to include some questions about football, and, in a few cases, I have provided clues.

Q1  What do the following cricketers have in common?

a) A.C.D. Ingleby-McKenzie (Hampshire)

b) Dudley Owen-Thomas (Surrey)

c) Paul Franks (Nottinghamshire)

Q2  Who was the last Oxford Blue to appear in the top division of the Football League? (2 points for the player ; 1 if you don’t know the name, but can name the decade in which he first appeared.)

(The last that I know of – points will be awarded for any plausible later answer.)

Q3  This lady was the Mother of which future England cricket Captain?

ptdc0720-2

Clue : her great-granddaughter is a well-known writer and art critic, and this is not her first appearance in this quiz.

Q4 The following is a description of a well-known cricketing personality’s debut as an entertainer :

He basically trotted out a stream of lewd jokes and foul language. Some people found it funny, but there were plenty who didn’t.” Friends described it as “One of the major disasters of his life” and were “relieved and grateful” when it was over.

But whose?

a) Fred Trueman’s stand-up comedy routine in a club in Stockton-on-Tees

b) Colin Milburn’s turn as a DJ in the Turner Suite at Wantage Road

c) Lionel Tennyson, addressing the Mothers’ Union

Q5 The case of “the Lustful Turk” was a notorious breach of promise action, featuring the Mother of which cricketing personality as the plaintiff?

ptdc0708-2

Clue : he was later supposedly blackballed by the MCC for having described her as “a kind of genteel courtesan”.

Q6  The following is an excerpt from the autobiography of which Warwickshire cricketer?

Marijuana later crept into my life as an alternative to alcohol, which was starting to lose its appeal. Drinking alcohol on top of taking ecstasy allowed me to drink twice as much. Smoking marijuana was actually my attempt to rehabilitate myself.”

Clue : it is neither M.J.K. nor A.C. Smith.

Q7  Which English cricketer shared his name with a play by William Shakespeare? (2 points for the individual I am thinking of, but bonus points may be awarded for ingenious alternatives.)

Q8 The man in the hat was, for many years, Chief Scorer at Wantage Road, despite labouring under which handicap?

ptdc0698-2

a) He gradually lost his sight, and had to have the play described to him

b) He was hopeless at maths, and always added the scores up wrongly

c) He was French

Q9  The urchin second from the left in the back row grew up to captain England at cricket, but who was he?

ptdc0716-2

Q10  Which writer described which cricket tournament as being “widely and justifiably viewed as a civilisational nadir”?

a) Virginia Woolf, writing about the “Bodyline” tour

b) Clive James, about Kerry Packer’s WSC

c) Mihir S. Sharma, about the IPL

Q11  The Casuals XI of 1914 included two players of particular note :

ptdc0701-2

a) (Front row, extreme left) captained Manchester City and England at football, won a Wimbledon doubles title, made a century at Lord’s, and once beat Charlie Chaplin at table-tennis using a butter knife.

b) (Back row, centre, in blazer) set a batting record that still stands, had a brand of whisky named after him, and was once accused of “Bolshevism” by Lord Harris for leading all of his side out at Lord’s from the same entrance. (He is shown here in close-up in a cartoon by Tom Webber.)

ptdc0707-2

But who were they? (2 points each)

Q12  Alfred Stockwin, Northamptonshire’s groundsman at both the Racecourse and Wantage Road, once had occasion to pull a drayman down from his cart and give him “a good hiding”. But what had the man done to provoke this?

a) Watered the beer intended for the Pavilion

b) Suggested that Northants were not worthy of first-class status

c) Ridden his cart across the square

Q13  Three members of “the Establishment” on their way to see the Home Secretary. But who were they and what were they going to discuss? (1 point for each answer)

ptdc0729-2

Q14  According to E.H.D. Sewell, the following were the nicknames of some then-prominent cricketers – but can you attach the right name to the right nickname? (1 point each)

Balmy ……………………………………… J.A. Bush (Gloucestershire)

Jungly ……………………………………….K.J. Key (Surrey)

Nutty ………………………………………. H.A. Gilbert (Worcestershire)

Fatty ……………………………………….. Father J.G. Grieg (Hampshire)

Frizzy ………………………………………. F. Martin (Kent)

Q15  Two cricketers, whose names will be forever linked – but who are they?  (1 point for the player on the right, 2 points for the other.)

ptdc0712-2

Q16  True or false : the German writer W.G. Sebald was named after W.G. Grace, as a secret gesture of support for the Allied cause?

Q17  Which of the following has not, at some time, been the nickname of one of Market Harborough’s football teams?

a) The Huntsmen

b) The Cheesecakers

c) The Corsetmen

Q18  Who is the author of the hymn (no. 307 in “Hymns Ancient and Modern”, rev. ed.), whose first verse is as follows?

God, whose farm is all creation

take the gratitude we give;

take the finest of our harvest,

crops we grow that men may live.

Q19  The nine sons and three daughters of William Kingston, Headmaster of Abingdon House School :

ptdc0726-2

How many of the nine sons represented Northamptonshire at cricket?

a) Three

b) Five

c) Eight

Q20 A fine player for Northamptonshire, a flat-mate of Colin Milburn, and a familiar figure at Wantage Road, who sadly died this year.  Who was he?

PTDC0775

 

Happy quizzing, and a Merry Christmas to all my readers! 

 

A Midlands Romance

 

ptdc0585-2

“The only thing romantic in the Midlands is the names of the professional football clubs – and football, generally speaking, is not a romantic game …

 

The towns are, perhaps, not meant for summer, summer’s delights and summer’s games, and only when the fogs come down and blur their grim, unlovely lines and the street-lamps mingle with lights from stalls and shops to deck them out in a boisterous blaze do they become warm and human. 

 

Football is their proper game, and, seen in the lights of the trams as they sway over lines glittering in the December rain, the stop-press columns of the evening papers with their long lists of scores and results take on a mystic significance …”

Meet me on the corner when the lights are coming on and I’ll be there – I promise I’ll be there …”

Quotations from Dudley Carew (“To The Wicket”) and Rod Clements (“Meet Me On The Corner”).

 

Pessoa and the Lambton Worms

ptdc0564

The Meaning of Sport / Simon Barnes : Short Books, 2006

Hatters, Railwaymen and Knitters : Travels Through England’s Football Provinces / Daniel Gray : Bloomsbury, 2013 

For the sake of argument, there are two types of argument about sport (as this piece is going to be structured around collapsible binary oppositions, I may as well start as I mean to go on). So, for the sake of argument, two. The first, which – however heated – has the potential to achieve some kind of resolution, is about matters of detail, or means, by those who assume a common goal. In the second kind, the disputants will always be at cross purposes, and the argument can never be resolved, because their motives for following the sport, and the goals they are hoping to achieve, are quite different and incompatible.

For example, if the point at issue is whether the number of First Class Counties should be reduced, to produce a higher quality of cricket and a more successful England side, two people who follow cricket for reasons of connoisseurship (an informed appreciation of high quality cricket), or national patriotism, will be arguing only as to whether that is an effective means to a commonly agreed end. They may reach agreement with each other, but will never agree with someone whose motives for watching cricket are primarily social (a chance to meet their friends, a sense of belonging), or local patriotism. Cricket is, perhaps, more prone to these intractable arguments than, say, football, because, as well as having a broader emotional range, its followers have a wider range of motives.

This thought occurred to me when the happy serendipity of the charity shop led me to read two books, both ostensibly about sport (they were shelved in the sports section). One was “The Meaning of Sport” by Simon Barnes, the other “Hatters, Railwaymen and Knitters” by Daniel Gray. Both are described on their cover as “joyful”, but neither author would, I think, be able to extract much joy from the other’s sporting life. I am not intending to review both books. I enjoyed, and would recommend both, but although the authors are of interest as individuals, I am more concerned with them here as types, as extreme cases of two attitudes to sport, or as polar opposites on a spectrum which I hereby, grandly, dub “the Barnes-Gray Scale”.

To begin with the similarities, both books are accounts of travelling to watch sport over a limited period of time. Barnes, in his then-role as Chief Sportswriter for “The Times”, begins his journey in Portugal in 2004 for the European (Football) Championships, and ends in Summer 2006, in Germany to watch the (Football) World Cup. In between, he takes in Wimbledon, the Olympic Games in Athens, the US Open, the Ryder Cup, the European Cup Final in Istanbul, the 2005 Ashes series, the Winter Olympics (from his home in Suffolk), the Test series in India, and another European Cup Final in Paris. In between, he zooms back and forth, in space and time, from Zambia to Zimbabwe to Japan ; he is menaced by a jaguar, kisses Daryl Hannah, falls off his horse and has frequent misadventures with internet connections.

Gray’s book covers roughly (the chronology is a little vague) the calendar year 2011. He aims, as he turns thirty, to visit the football grounds of those teams who finished first, second and last in the four divisions in the year of his birth, meaning that he ends up in Middlesborough, Sheffield, Luton, Ipswich, Watford, Leyton, Chester, Crewe, Hinckley, Burnley, Bradford, Carlisle and Newquay (sharp-eyed readers may be able to spot a couple of anomalies in that list). His modus operandi (although he doesn’t say so, I think he must have been working from Monday to Friday) is to arrive by public transport on the morning of the match, mooch around town, give us a potted history of the town and the club, have a drink, watch the match, go out on the town (on his own), stay in a cheap hotel, mooch around a bit more and head back to Scotland (where he lives). He, too, encounters difficulties along the way : he is annoyed by some mildly racist old ladies and almost has his notebook confiscated by stewards in Luton, and is accused of “looking like Harry Potter” and being “a paedo” in Middlesborough ; he takes in various pubs and social clubs, a Nando’s, a McDonald’s and the Luton Conservative Club.

Barnes writes like a professional (he describes having to write 600 words in half an hour, and how the ability to do so plausibly is the real mark of a journalist). His book consists of 158 short pieces, each about the length of a newspaper column, and containing at its heart one thought, usually epigrammatically expressed. Some of these epigrams glisten briefly, then burst like soap bubbles ; sometimes the pieces are like an elegant display of Barcelona-style tiki-taka that results in nothing, but usually the thought, once unwrapped from its cocoon of words, is worth having (I realised, on re-reading the book, that I have internalised several of them to the extent that I had forgotten their origin).

Gray (and I mean this as a compliment) writes like a blogger : he rambles, meanders and takes detours as his whimsy takes him ; if he comes across something that takes his fancy, then in it goes into his narrative – talking CCTV cameras in Middlesborough, Benedictine drinkers at Turf Moor, the shops next door to the childhood home of Jarvis Cocker. His writing resembles that of Stuart Maconie (though without the mania for puns) and Harry Pearson (and, if you don’t like either of those, you are unlikely to admire Gray), tinged with a zany, Reeves and Mortimer-style kitchen sink surrealism. Occasionally, an overambitious figure of speech is fired high over the bar into Row Z from thirty yards out (lambs glimpsed from a train are “like white mice climbing ladles in a cutlery drawer”) but, mostly, his style is vivid and droll. A typical passage (and, if you can’t see what this has to do with sport, it might suggest you are a Barnes) might include :

Lambton Worms of two-up two-downs once more take me to a home ground … Ticket office girls, with whom I spend more time on Saturdays than my wife, ignore me at first. They have an important matter at hand : one has pinched a bacon Frazzle from the other. ‘That’s my dinner, ger off.’ … At half-time, one, two, three then four people all sidle along to the gangway and slip on a battered haddock, discarded at the game’s start as its eater cheered Crewe’s goal.

The two writers set out their stall in their titles. “Hatters, Knitters and Railwaymen” (the nicknames of Luton Town, Hinckley Athletic and Swindon Town respectively) is concrete, particular and conveys, concisely, that Gray is interested in the way that football clubs preserve the sense of identity that was once generated by local industries. “The Meaning of Sport” is grandly ambitious, abstract, and, apparently, so pretentious that it could, by any other writer, only be intended at least semi-ironically.

Barnes is often accused of pretension ; unfairly, I think, in that he does not pretend to a level of intelligence, or a breadth of cultural reference, that he does not possess. What makes him unusual is that he sees no incongruity in writing about sport in the same way that he approaches high culture, and, therefore, has no sense of the potential for bathetic comedy in doing so (he seems genuinely puzzled and pained by his frequent appearances in Pseuds’ Corner, for instance). He is aware that his habit of selecting a national classic to accompany a tournament, like a gourmet selecting a fine wine to accompany a meal (he takes Pessoa to Portugal, Seferis to Greece, Sei Shonagan to Japan) will strike some as absurd, but he cannot understand why.

Most writers about sport, however high-browed, have, lurking somewhere at the back of their minds, a minatory chorus of stick-giving mates (from the terraces, or the Rugby Club bar), who must be placated with, at least, one layer of self-deflating irony. Barnes, on the other hand, seems to worry that his literary friends will think he is wasting his time writing about sport at all, that he is not being pretentious enough. This is partly, I think, because, unlike Gray, whose first experience of sport was the entirely typical one of being taken to the football (in his case, at Ayresome Park) by his Dad, Barnes seems to have discovered sport by himself, and comparatively late in life. He is not, even subconsciously, worried about what his mates at the football will think, because he never had any. And this, I think, takes us back from the particular to the typical, and my putative Barnes-Gray Scale.

Barnes, as I have suggested, is interested in sport in the abstract, and in, as well as professionally obliged to write about, all sports (if I wanted to risk a trip to Pseuds’ Corner myself, I might suggest he sees particular sports as the phenomenal manifestation of the noumenal essence of sport itself). This does not mean that he likes them all equally (he thinks golf is “silly” and hates boxing). At one point he lists the fifty greatest sporting events of his life : eight are from football, six athletics, five cricket, four from rugby, horseracing and tennis ; there are also entries from basketball, American football, equestrianism, sailing and boxing. What he dislikes is what he terms the “monoculture” of English sport, the “notion that only football matters”. It is possible that Gray is interested in sports other than football, but there is only a passing mention of them in his book ; I am sure he does not believe, as Barnes alleges, that “to admit to a liking for any sport other than football is a confession that you are homosexual”, but I doubt he thinks of any as more than a temporary diversion from the main event.

Other sports do intrude rudely, once, into Gray’s monocultural world in the shape of the 2012 London Olympics. For Barnes, the Olympics represent the apex of sport, the essence of sport, because it is, variously, “a feast of really big fuckers” (an allusion to Hunter S. Thompson’s attorney), because it attracts “10,000 journalists … 10,000 artists, all trying to grapple with beauty and immensity”, because it is “the greatest of all sporting events” and so on (his veneration for the Olympics is one of the leitmotifs that weave in and out of his narrative).

For Gray, “watching handball at midnight suddenly seemed like a rational activity. In itself, that was fine. Delightful, in fact. Then they went for our sport.” He quotes Geoffrey Wheatcroft writing of football as a sport “which sometimes looks like a game owned by crooks and despots and played by racists and rapists” and responds that Wheatcroft is “writing of top-end Premier League, of multi-millionaire players. That is not my game … It is not the football that unites post-industrial towns when so much else is lost to them … Neither is it the football that acts as a social lubricant when I am at a wedding or in the workplace … Rowing and equestrian, incidentally, are none of these things. Yes, I can do class prejudice too.” (Given that “rowing and equestrian” are two of Barnes’ favourites, this might be a rare example of their two worlds colliding.)

The Olympics are only the biggest of the “really big fuckers” that Barnes writes about : in the space of two years he does not seem to have watched any sport below the level of one of the bigger Premier League games. Gray, on the other hand, spurns the one opportunity he has to watch a top-level game : when his schedule should have taken him to Liverpool, he decides, instead, to visit (of all places) Newquay (“ending with a Premier League game would be like finishing a happy, wholesome, happy marriage with a cocaine-fulled orgy”). Whereas Barnes is, in the most benign sense of that vexed term, an elitist, Gray is not only indifferent to elite sport, but actively hostile to it.

It is possible that Barnes was only contractually obliged to write about the great events and spent his days off watching Ryman League football, but I doubt whether he would see the point, or be able to find any meaning in it. For him (and this is another leitmotif) sport is about greatness, or, as he puts it (in a passage that teeters on the brink of self-parody):

It [a tennis match between Sampras and Agassi] was the clearest possible demonstration of the difference between very, very good – and great. And, as I seek constantly a good tale to tell, so I seek – almost for private reasons, for personal rather than public gratification – greatness, I seek an understanding of greatness. I seek, perhaps, the highest thing of all, to write greatness : and write it true. But, above all, I seek to be where greatness is.”

or, again :

Greatness is a great word in sport, a great concept. In a sense, sport is all about greatness : the search for greatness, the falling short from greatness, the rare, rare achievement of greatness. Greatness is elusive of definition …”

and so on. Whatever Gray is looking for when he travels to Burnley or Crewe, it cannot be greatness ; in fact, he rarely makes any comment on, or even seem to notice, the quality of the game he has come to see.

For Barnes, greatness is an individual quality. When he writes about team games, he boils them down, reduces them to the stories of individuals : “at the heart of the story of the Ashes was the story of Andrew Flintoff : the Man Who Changed” ; Liverpool won the European Cup Final because “One man refused to accept the things that were happening before him. Steven Gerrard didn’t like reality … so he changed it.” When he tries to sum up what sport is all about, discover its quintessence, he gives it the name of an individual (the rower, Steve Redgrave).

Redgrave is not only a person. Redgrave is a quality. Napoleon would ask of his generals “has he luck?”. I ask of athletes “Has he Redgrave?”.”

Gray has so little interest in individuals that he does not once name the players in the matches he sees (which he could have discovered by buying a programme). I can work out that Sheffield United’s “beanstalk forward” who will “end the season in prison for rape” must be Ched Evans, and can have a stab at one or two others, but otherwise they remain anonymous. It is not, though, that he is interested in the team (as in team-work, team-spirit or tactics) ; he is interested in the club. The team is a particular collection of individuals at a given moment in time ; the club is a collective entity that transcends time (always changing, always mysteriously the same) and (as any football fan will tell you) it is the fans that make the club. A team is a managerial entity ; a club a social one.

Barnes repeatedly, and deliberately, distances himself from any notion of belonging. The first section finds him in a cafe in Portugal, reading Pessoa’s “Book of Disquiet”, in the company of “men with very little hair and very considerable bellies. This evening England play Croatia : if they (should I say we? Definitely not) win or draw …”. At Wimbledon, at the height of Henmania, he concedes that “I am no more like these tennis followers than I am like the football people I scowled at in Lisbon”. He explains his dislike of golf by his “media-pinko” parents’ “dislike of suburban values … and clubbability : no. Not my way”. “I wasn’t brought up with the nation of supporting a football club … Perhaps fanship is like acquiring language : it has to be done at a certain, and very young age, or it simply doesn’t happen” ; “Do I sound like an Arsenal supporter here? I am not. I am a supporter, I suppose, not of Juventus, but of juventus …” and, a phrase he repeatedly employs,My patriotism for the nation of excellence …”.

If Barnes is, in his own eyes, the cat who walks alone (all teams are alike to him), for Gray the search for a sense of belonging is the whole point of football, the whole meaning of sport. In his conclusion, he writes :

Away from the jaded cynicism of its highest reaches it [football] remains a social movement I am honoured to be part of. Down in the provinces, it is affordable and accessible. Contrary to my fears, young people are still catching the bug. No computer game can beat the thrill of … being an active part in a bustling community of interest … in an England of flux, where no job is certain, families break up or live far apart, community or church is loose or weak, football is more important than ever. It breeds belonging in an uncertain world.

What is striking is how mutually exclusive their two worlds seem. Barnes spends 365 pages looking for the meaning of sport, and never thinks of looking where Gray finds it, either physically (in Crewe) or mentally. Sport, in all its 158 Barnesian aspects, scarcely seems to exist for Gray, except as a pretext for something else. Although Barnes nods to the contemporary pieties about race and gender, he is essentially apolitical : Gray is political in the both the obvious sense (he is an ex-member of the SWP, he is angry about Hillsborough and Thatcher, he writes about the Chartists and the post-war Luton riots) and the more radical sense that he discovers the meaning of football in the civic, the social, a matter of the polity.

You might, I suppose, extrapolate from this a divided nation, and there is certainly an aspect to their differences which is to do with regionality and class. Barnes (a middle class product of the South London suburbs) is an authentic example of a minority who are genuinely globalised, individualistic, floating free from inherited attachments and historic resentments : Gray, self-consciously working class and Northern (his family “miners turned bus drivers” from Teeside via Yorkshire), sees football as a way to cling to them.

But that, I suspect, is a rather weak correlation (there must be many working-class Barnses and middle-class Grays), and most of us are neither purely Barnes nor Gray, but somewhere on a scale between the two. Surprisingly, perhaps, I would place myself somewhere nearer Gray’s end (I am mostly indifferent to sports other than cricket, football and rugby, often irritated by the Olympics, not overly preoccupied by greatness (which is just as well, given the teams I support), more attached to clubs than individuals, and am less interested in sport for sport’s sake than as a pretext for other things (though those other things are not quite the same as Gray’s). I do, though, exhibit more of (to use his formulation) the quality of Barnes when it comes to cricket, the sport I know and care about the most.

If you have a moment, you might find it amusing to try to place yourself somewhere along my scale.

England versus Ireland : the Wearing of the Green and White

As England take on Ireland tomorrow (at Rugby football rather than cricket, I suppose it is now necessary to point out), a look at how the equivalent fixture was advertised by London Transport in 1934*. Rather more elegantly, I’d say.  The artist is Charles Burton.  I’m not sure he was fully conversant with the rules of Rugby, given the unlikelihood of the situation depicted occurring in a match, but he has made inventive use of a limited palette (green, white, black and grey).  Was this, I wonder, a purely artistic decision or was it dictated in some way by the limitations of the printing process?  Or perhaps, like the Blackpool trams of my youth, this was the livery of the railway company concerned?

 

England v Ireland

I’m not sure which theory this supports, but a similar limited palette is in evidence from January’s selection (for yes, I am “borrowing” these images from the calendar on my wall).

Football

This was published by the Underground Electric Railway Company Ltd. in 1913 and the artist was Sidney Thomas Charles Weeks.  Again, I doubt realism was the primary motivation for the colour scheme.  A white polo-necked jersey would hardly have been practical for diving in the mud, and I don’t believe any footballer prior to Alan Ball in his Blackpudlian youth wore white boots.

Most of the clubs advertised (if not the venues) are still familiar, but the Queen’s Club (now better known for tennis) was where the Corinthian F.C. played most of their home fixtures.  London Caledonians were an amateur club (the equivalent of London Scottish at Rugby football, I suppose), who were a power in the Isthmian League, but failed to reconvene after World War II.

* Although this poster was, apparently, published in 1934, it seems to be advertising the 1935 Home Nations fixture, which was won 14-3 by England.  Ireland, however, went on to win the Championship. Let us hope that is not an omen!